By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Doug Walk is an avid hunter.
He has been roaming the local woods since he was a kid, hunting deer, rabbits, squirrels and turkeys.
He has also hunted elk in Colorado, bear and moose in Canada and red stag deer in New Zealand.
And his “bucket list” includes hunting for grizzly bear in British Columbia and brown bear in Russia.
He admits to coming home one day early from his honeymoon so he could go deer hunting.
He also admits that his wife, Denise, has never forgotten that.
His home is a testament to the hunting success he and his two daughters – Morgan, 19; and Hannah, 17 – have enjoyed through the years. A stuffed black bear and a couple turkeys can be seen in the living room, while the back wall of his house and is adorned with more than 10 deer and elk heads.
“I’ve been hunting since I was old enough to carry a shotgun,” Doug said. “My dad didn’t really hunt much, but he taught me the safety aspects of it.”
Doug was born in Funkhouser and moved to Teutopolis when he was in fifth grade.
“Dad had 60 acres in Funkouser and I was always in the woods,” Doug recalled. “I was fishing in the creek or hunting every chance I had. I was outside all the time.
“I remember Charlie Hotze. I used to shoot squirrels for him,” Doug added. “We’d sit on his back porch and clean them, and then his wife would make fried squirrel for a meal with white peach pie and ice cream for dessert. You just don’t get that type of cooking anymore.”
After about 60 seconds with Doug, you realize just how much he truly enjoys hunting. Stories about trips and time spent with family and friends are plentiful. It’s clear he enjoys the camaraderie as much as he enjoys the actual hunt.
But you will also discover how important “giving back” is to the 46-year-old, who owns Walk’s Auto Body.
He does this by providing food for the wildlife and by teaching young boys and girls about hunting.
Doug has property in Clay County that includes about 20 acres of food plots and a cabin. He grows about 15 acres of corn, plus other food, that is never harvested. It is grown and left for the animals.
“If you’re going to shoot an animal, you’re going to eat it,” Doug said. “You’re not going to waste it. That would be wrong. And if you’re going to take an animal, I believe it’s important to put something back for the animals that are still there. That’s why I grow this food. It’s something to help the animals.”
Doug also uses the cabin to provide hunting experiences for youth.
“We’ve been taking young boys or girls down there for Youth Season for several years,” Doug explained. “These kids have never shot a deer in their life, plus we teach them about the proper way to hunt and it keeps them out of trouble.”
The Youth Deer Hunting Season is the second weekend of October and is open to youth up to age 18.
“We’ve probably taken 15 different kids during the years,” Doug noted. “If they don’t get an animal, they get invited back the next year.”
Evan Wermert was one of those. He didn’t get a deer the previous year, but made the most of his second opportunity.
“He had even bought a bow and practiced all year,” added Doug, who is primarily a bow hunter. “We spent the day about 20 feet high in a tree stand. We were able to call in a small buck and Evan got it. If you’ve ever seen the expression on a young person’s face after they get their first animal, you will never forget it.”
The parents are also invited to the cabin for a cookout on Saturday night. Doug gets help from friends like Bob Kremer and Paul Hardiek, who will also show the kids how to hunt.
“After seeing how excited their kids get, I’ve seen parents get involved with hunting, too,” Doug said. “Hunting is something that’s great to do with friends and family. It’s not all just about the hunting. It’s the bonding that helps make it special.”
Bonding through hunting is something Doug has plenty of experience with.
Both of his daughters started hunting when they were young. Hannah was only six. But according to Doug, she “is the hunter of the family. I believe she likes it the most. I’ve promised her I will take her elk hunting in Colorado or bear hunting in Canada.”
Morgan is a sophomore at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, while Hannah is a senior at Teutopolis High School.
Doug remembers when Morgan shot an 18-point buck that was 220 pounds after being field dressed.
“It the largest deer on our wall at home,” he admitted.
About a month ago, Doug had a successful trip to Colorado with buddies Terry Westendorf, Danny Niebrugge and Dave Roepke. He used his bow to down what he called an “incredible bull elk.”
“Elk is great to eat. We haven’t had to buy hamburger since I got back.” he noted. “That’s how big that elk was.”
Doug also had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand to hunt for red stag deer.
“Normally, it cost $12,000 for the tag and to be allowed to hunt on the land,” Doug remembered. “By the time I paid for everything, it would have been more than $15,000. I couldn’t afford that.”
But after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the number of people traveling was reduced considerably. Because of that, and since there are no predators in New Zealand, the deer herds were growing larger and larger.
As a result, the cost to hunt there was reduced significantly and Doug had his opportunity.
“I hunted on the South Island in New Zealand,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.”
The hunt proved successful. The head of the gold red stag deer is hanging on that back wall in his home. Gold means it was a large deer. In New Zealand, the deer are categorized as gold, silver or bronze, depending on their size.
He has also hunted for elk in New Mexico, moose in British Columbia and black bear in Saskatchewan.
“I still want to hunt for grizzly bear, probably in British Columbia; and brown bear in Russia,” Doug admitted. “Those two are definitely on my bucket list.”
In early November, Doug and his friends Cory (Wermert) and Paul will return to his cabin to bow hunt deer.
“We’ll live like hermits for a week,” Doug said. “We’ll be up in the tree stand before daylight and not come down until dark. We might be 10 miles apart, but we’ll text each other. I just can’t tell you how much I enjoy all that.
“I may not get a deer this year because I don’t really need the meat,” he added. “If so, I think this will be the first year I haven’t got a deer. But I still remember my first one like it was yesterday. I was 23.”
Doug, who shoots with a Hoyt compound bow, noted that only seven percent of the hunters that go to Colorado actually get an elk. The rest go home empty-handed.
But that doesn’t detract from the experience.
“Even if you do go home empty-handed, it’s still awesome to be out there,” Doug noted. “You’re 9,000 to 10,000 feet up in the mountains. The aspen leaves are starting to change colors and are absolutely beautiful. And it’s just you and your buddies. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”